Labour Party Conference 2006 – A Week in Pictures

Manchester welcomes the Labour Party Conference 2006

I have just returned from a fabulous week in Manchester, at this year’s Labour Party Conference. Despite dire media warnings of splits, plotting and in-fighting, mine and most other attendees experience of this year’s conference was nothing but positive.

It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones, to debate policy and fresh ideas, and to listen to fantastic speeches by world statesmen such as Bill Clinton.

I am really pleased that I was there to be a part of it all.

Below is a summary of what I got up to…

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At the London Reception with John Reid and Leyton Conference Delegate Victoria

After arriving in Manchester on Saturday afternoon, I headed out to the London Labour Party Reception to catch up with colleagues from all over the capital and further afield. During all the mingling, I bumped into Home Secretary, John Reid (pictured centre), having a natter with Victoria Baffour-Awuah (pictured right), Leyton’s delegate to this year’s conference. I am so pleased that Vicky got to represent Leyton and Wanstead’s constituency Labour party at this year’s conference, as she ran a superb campaign during the local elections in Cann Hall ward and deserved to have her achievements celebrated. First-time delegate Vicky not only hob nobbed the conference away with an impressive array of cabinet ministers, she also gave a speech on the conference floor in the Africa debate and got to sit behind the Prime Minister as he gave his last ever Labour Party Conference speech as Leader. Go on that woman! The local Labour party will be working very hard to get Vicky elected to the council next time around…

With Abi, one my best friends from university

Anticipating a busy week ahead, I snuck off after the London Reception to catch up with Abi, one of my best friends from University. I studied in Manchester and a lot of my course mates still live in the city. It was fab to catch up with Abi and other friends, Mel and Tamsin, to get the latest gossip and spend some time together.

Speaking at the Compass Rally

Later on Sunday evening, it was my turn to speak on a fringe meeting panel at a rally hosted by Compass, the democratic left pressure group, upon whose board I sit (www.compassonline.org.uk). The meeting, entitled ‘Let’s get this party (re)started‘, debated a new Compass pamphlet written by author and Guardian journalist John Harris and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, about the renewal of the Labour Party. The two Johns and myself were joined on the panel by Compass Chair Neal Lawson, who chaired the meeting, Steve Richards, from The Independent, and Tony Woodley, General Secretary of the Transport & General Workers’ Union. We all urged Jon Cruddas to put himself forward when the contest for Deputy Leader eventually begins. To our delight, later in the week, he did…

David Miliband being quized by journalists

Another highlight of this year’s Labour party conference was listening to marvellous speeches given by the new generation of Government Ministers such as David Miliband (pictured centre, who I snapped being quizzed by journalists after the Prime Minister’s speech). It would be a total waste for this talented Labour generation to have to spend their prime, in opposition, on the back benches, and that’s why everyone at Conference resolved to work even harder, to ensure that Labour wins the historic fourth term the country needs….

With the Waltham Forest Gang

Tuesday night and I went out for a nice Chinese meal with my council colleagues from Waltham Forest, the borough’s three conference delegates, and other local party activists who were also up in Manchester. I then went for a “reunion curry” with fellow former members of the Manchester University Labour Club. We went to ‘Curry Mile’, in Manchester’s Rusholme district, which I believe is the best place outside of India, to eat a really good curry. And indeed, my stomach told me it was good to be back… :-)

Former US President Bill Clinton

The main highlight of my conference week, was Former US President Clinton’s stunning conference speech on Wednesday. Clinton spoke without notes for over 45 minutes and was truly magnificent. I have never heard anybody traverse the themes of economy, environment, social justice, international development and health with such ease and in such a personal way. For 45 minutes, conference remembered what it was like to feel affection for a US president. We are all greatly hoping for a Democrat victory in the US mid-term elections later this year and then, even better, a Democrat Presidential victory in 2008…

Speaking at the Jewish Labour Movement

The last event of conference for me was a fringe meeting hosted by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), on Wednesday night, entitled ‘Hope not Hate: How Labour Can Halt the Advance of the Far Right‘. I spoke on the panel with John Mann MP, Louise Ellman MP, Sir Jeremy Beecham, Chair of the Labour Party National Executive, and Alex Sobel, a Labour Party, GMB and fellow Compass activist, in a really lively fringe meeting, which was the best fringe I attended. I am extremely grateful to the JLM’s Vice Chair, Neil Nerva (pictured next to me on the right) for inviting me to speak. I very much enjoyed myself and was delighted to participate in this important debate.

And with that, after an excellent week in Manchester, it was back to Leyton!

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